Bulls respond to coach’s challenge with “chippy” practice

A couple of mild skirmishes broke out during USF's portion of 11-on-11 drills open to the media
USF quarterback Blake Barnett drops back behind Gaither High alumnus Donovan Jennings (76) during 11-on-11 work Wednesday. (JOEY KNIGHT | Times)
USF quarterback Blake Barnett drops back behind Gaither High alumnus Donovan Jennings (76) during 11-on-11 work Wednesday. (JOEY KNIGHT | Times)
Published Aug. 8, 2018|Updated Aug. 8, 2018

A day after being called out by their coach for a collective lack of practice energy, the Bulls responded with some passion.

And in some instances, pugilism.

"Most definitely a lot of chippiness," starting LT Eric Mayes said.

At least two mild post-play skirmishes broke out during the 11-on-11 portion of practice open to reporters Wednesday. Only 24 hours before, Coach Charlie Strong had bemoaned his group's intensity level, calling Tuesday's workout "a wasted day."

Related: Charlie Strong: Tuesday's practice a 'wasted day' for USF

"We're just still learning how to work," Strong said. "It was a lot better than (Tuesday), but we still have a long ways to go, have a lot of improvement."

RT Marcus Norman appeared to be at the center of one mini-scuffle, but it was unclear who sparked the other. Both dissipated quickly.

"When you get toward the end and guys get tired, then you start getting all the chirping," Strong said. "The running back wants to keep running, the DB wants to run up and hit him. It's really good when you just see the competitiveness."

STARTING FIVE? Unlike last season, when the starting offensive line seemed in flux most of August, the first team appears mostly solid with Mayes, Norman, RG Billy Atterbury, C Michael Wiggs and LG Hal Roberson. A 316-pound sophomore, Roberson is starting while redshirt freshman Demetris Harris rehabs an unspecified injury.

"We're pretty set, pretty jelled," Mayes said. "We can get things done. We love everything the (starters) are doing right now."

The second-team unit featured RT Troy Fields, RG Sebastian Sainterling C Jean Marcellus (Jefferson High alumnus), LG Donovan Jennings (of Gaither High) and LT Jeremiah Stafford. A Virginia Union transfer, Fields isn't yet listed on the roster.

FOOT RACE: Senior walk-on Jake Vivonetto appeared to prevail in the latest round of the place-kicking derby Wednesday, going 3-for-4 on attempts ranging from 27 to approximately 45 yards. His lone miss was from around 40, but he connected on one slightly longer.

Tennessee State transfer Coby Weiss was 2-for-4 from the same distances. Freshman Ian Deneen did most of the long-snapping.

ODDS AND ENDS: To clear up any confusion that may have surfaced on social media, Saturday's scrimmage — which precedes the USF Fan Fest — is closed. No open practices have been announced at this point. … Redshirt freshman FS Mekhi LaPointe, an Armwood High alumnus, logged some first-team reps Wednesday. Speaking of first team, the starting defensive line featured DE Greg Reaves, DT Kevin Bronson, DT Kevin Kegler and DE Kirk Livingstone.